Finally! This week I actually got to start working on the map itself. I started by looking first at the time that Father De Smet was traveling to see the Flathead Indians. But much to my disappointment, the only thing I could plot on the map was the final leg of his journey to Three Rivers. This is also true for his second trip up to see the Flathead Indians. However, on this trip he established St. Mary’s Mission and that was easily plotted. Also during this particular time, De Smet made a few trips to forts or other missions in the area, all of which I can plot. I think I may also plot various other missions in the area with their founders as well as times they were active if possible to add the overall value of the map itself.
Right now I am using post it flags to mark particular places with dates of arrival and departure. I have a map key I made separate with numbers in order to keep everything straight. I am marking significant events and using the date or suspected dates to keep a running timeline of De Smet’s movements.
I received a Native American map that I ordered in the mail this week. On this map I can see some of the missions depicted from the De Smet writings, as well as some trails used in the area. If I can transcribe some of the trails from this map to the De Smet map, I may be able to depict De Smet’s routes exactly. Also, it lists tribes that were active in the area at the time. This Native map has a large scale, so with it I can actually track De Smet’s movements all the way to and from St. Louis. This enables me to see the entire picture and thus get a better understanding of all the things described in the writing.
After I am done depicting everything I can on the map, the next step will be to figure out a block of time that De Smet is in this area and get a hold of the archivist in St. Louis. I will then be able to determine what specific letters were written while he was active in this part of the country. I will then be able to depict whom he was corresponding with and give a short biography of that person.
The goals for this upcoming week is to get most of the important places on the map plotted and try to establish that block of time I described above. I think I may be able to get most of this done in a full day. We will see.
But for now I am excited at the progress of this project. I truly feel like this project is coming together at a good speed, and before long I will be adding detail that will only enhance this maps usability.